The World Association of Newspapers has urged Chinese premier Wen Jiabao to “take further steps to uphold international standards of press freedom”, in the wake of the country’s decision to extend new freedoms granted during the Olympics.
Ten days ago China announced that new freedoms granted on 1 January 2007 would be extended – allowing foreign journalists to conduct interviews with anyone without first obtaining government permission.
But WAN has pointed out that the relaxed rules do not include domestic journalists and do not address fundamental rights.
In a letter to the Chinese government WAN president Gavin O’Reilly says: ‘For example, there is no protection of news sources, it is not possible to report freely on Tibet and hotels are obliged to report the arrival of a foreign journalist to police.
‘Furthermore, with more than 30 journalists and at least 50 cyber reporters imprisoned, China jails more journalists than any other country.
‘We respectfully call on you to extend the relaxed regulations to domestic journalists, to introduce further reforms so that your country might fully respect international standards of press freedom, and to ensure that all those detained for exercising their right to freedom of expression are immediately released from prison.”
WAN represent 18,000 publications in 102 countries